An alleged murderer is set to be released from jail tomorrow, Aug. 13, after the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office failed to charge her within 72 hours of her arrest.
Rocsand Bocanegra, 42, of Cheyenne, was arrested at 12:20 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10, for the second-degree murder of Jess Smith, 58, of Cheyenne.
Laramie County Sheriff’s spokesman Captain Kevin James says deputies were called to Smith’s home in the 700 block of Mitchell Court shortly before 5:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 8, and arrived to find him suffering from a stab wound.
Smith was taken to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
When asked Friday why her office didn’t charge Bocanegra, DA Leigh Anne Grant Manlove said, “The sheriff’s office has my declination letter … I’ll send it to you.”
In the letter, dated Aug. 12, Manlove tells Detective Abraham Maljian that Wyoming’s self-defense statute (6-2-602) makes the case, at least at this point, not something that can be charged.
“Your investigation established that Ms. Bocanegra told you that Mr. Smith was ‘wailing’ on her, hitting her with closed fists and ‘giving me his all,’ and trying to ‘maul’ her,” said Manlove.
“She even went so far as to say that she just ‘wanted him to stop hitting me’ as justification for using the knife,” Manlove added.
Manlove says an autopsy showed Smith had injuries to his hands consistent with being in a physical fight and Bocanegra had injuries consistent with being physically assaulted.
“There is no evidence to suggest that Ms. Bocanegra was the initial aggressor,” said Manlove. “All of the physical evidence in your investigation supports Ms. Bocanegra’s version of what happened.”
Because there is no statute of limitations under Wyoming law, Manlove encouraged Malijan to continue investigating the case, saying, “there may be additional evidence that proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Ms. Bocanegra was not acting in self defense and therefore could be charged.”
“We see the evidence in this case differently than the district attorney’s office, but we understand that DA Manlove’s office has the final say in all charging decisions,” said James.
“We will continue to complete the investigation in this case just as we planned to,” he added.
For more information about this case, check out our earlier posts: